Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Jeff Nichols Talk ‘Loving’ At NY Premiere

We were on the red carpet for the New York Premiere of “Loving.”

The film written and directed by Jeff Nichols, starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, tells the story of the couple behind the famous Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage.

We caught up with the cast including Joel Edgarton, Ruth Negga and Jeff Nichols as they talk about working on the film, their connection to their characters and more.

Other notables in attendance included Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lupita Nyong’o and Carmen Ejogo.

Don’t forget Loving comes out November 4!

Speak about why it was important for you to come support tonight?

Carmen Ejogo: I came to support because I think that it’s hard to get these kinds of movies made, and I think they have such value in so many regards. I think we’re living in a contemporary sort of time, but this history is living with us in many forms. To assume that our rights are protected is foolhardy, I think, so I think to come and remind a young, contemporary audience that watching a film about the past is valid, and worth their time, I think is a reason to show up.

New York Premiere of Focus Features' "LOVING"

There’s a heart breaking moment in the film where he tells Mildred he’ll take care of her. Can you speak about filming, because that was such a touching scene?

Joel Edgerton: I think that there’s something very emasculating about the position that Richard was put into. I think it’s a very big engine in most men who have a family or have a partner that they presume that their place is to protect and provide for their partners and their family, and in this instance the institution took those rights away from them. They were faced with this kind of steel structure of the law that said they couldn’t do, couldn’t be, couldn’t live, couldn’t move around. I think that deep-down, Richard would have been very emasculated by that situation.

Can you share what you admire about Ruth as an actress and a person?

Joel Edgerton: The moment I met Ruth, I could tell that we shared a sense of humor. I could tell that she was very talented. I could tell that she cared so much about the role that she was about to play and that she cared about Richard and Mildred as a couple. We felt very privileged that we were doing this thing together. I just admire what she was doing in real time, and looking back on the film, I could see that I was right about how excellent she was. I think she’s turned in one of the great performances, not just of this year, but of many years, many years gone by.

How has this impacted you?

Ruth Negga: I just feel it was such a pleasure and a privilege to play Mildred Loving, I mean this couple is very dear to me. I fell in love with them immediately … I hope to say, that I became a better person just spending time with her. I just find her so inspirational, so courageous, just a special soul. I don’t think you can help but be changed when you meet this couple. You know something shifts in you. I think that will help resonate with the people, I think many people feel that way when they spend time with this couple, they’re a reminder that we’re capable of all things, we’re capable of goodness, it’s a very hopeful film.

What was most difficult about playing her?

Ruth Negga: I think what I found difficult was the situations that they were placed under, whether it was spending time in jail for the crime of getting married, or feeling Mildred’s melancholy and pain when they were expelled to Washington when all she wanted to do was raise her family in her home. I found that maddening and saddening, and that was difficult to know that this couple went through that, and that they weren’t alone. There was many people who had to go through that. And we filmed in Virginia which was such a pleasure and lovely, and it made it even sort of closer.

So many people are sharing their personal stories, and it’s lovely because people are learning and sharing, and that creates a dialogue and a conversation. It’s very brave; Can you having to be that brave just to marry someone who you loved, it’s extraordinary.
The major aspect of Mildred is the way she takes charge of both reviving her appeal and spreading awareness of the case. Can you speak a little to the importance to her actions in that era and what it was like to recreate her?

Ruth Negga: Well, I like Nancy Buirski, who did this beautiful documentary called HBO: The Loving Story, I urge that people see it. I’d found out about Mildred Loving through her obituary in 2008, and I thought “Oh gosh, that’s quite slim.” And I read that this case changed the Constitution of the United States of America, and I was quite surprised that this couple weren’t more well known. So that’s not a simple contribution, that’s quite grand. She’s just such a lovely human being, that playing her was such a pleasure; and I’ll say it again. It was a privilege, and I really do mean that.

A major aspect of the film is capturing the ordinary moments in their lives. Can you speak about how you went about capturing those intimate moments?

Jeff Nichols: Yeah, you know, I just tried to focus on the people. I tried to focus on their everyday lives. I think it’s very telling that Richard and Mildred are at the center of Loving versus Virginia. It’s one of the most important civil rights court cases in our nation’s history, but despite that, he was going to work everyday. She was raising those kids everyday. They didn’t have time to stop their lives and put them on hold in order to go be activists. Their activism was in their daily lives, in their existence, because that’s what people didn’t want. People didn’t want them to exist. I wanted to focus on everyday, every moment in their life, because I think that shows the sincerity of their love and I think it shows the humanity at the center of really big questions and ideas.

Speak about watching Ruth transform for this.

Jeff Nichols: Ruth was the first person we auditioned for this part. When she came in, she had Mildred fully built. She had the voice, she had the countenance. Honestly, I wasn’t very familiar with her work before this, so I really only knew her as Mildred. It was a very easy thing to cast, because she was perfect.

What do you hope audiences take away from the movie?

Jeff Nichols: I hope when audiences walk out of this movie, they walk out thinking about people. There are so many issues that this film touches upon, marriage equality, racial equality. A lot of people have a lot of opinions of those things, but not always are those opinions attached to the people at the center of those questions. That’s what I want people thinking about. Think about, why did anyone think this was wrong? Why did anyone think it was wrong for Richard and Mildred to be raising their family together? That’s what people need to be asking themselves.

New York, NY - - 10/26/16 - New York Premiere of Focus Features' "LOVING". The film stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, and is written and directed by Jeff Nichols. -Pictured: Gugu Mbatha-Raw -Photo by: Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix

New York, NY - - 10/26/16 - New York Premiere of Focus Features' "LOVING". The film stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, and is written and directed by Jeff Nichols. -Pictured: Lupita Nyong'o -Photo by: Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix
Photo Credit: StarPix

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